Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco Will Represent Clients in San Francisco CARE Court
August 15, 2023, San Francisco—The State Bar of California has announced that the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) of the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco will receive funding to provide representation to respondents in San Francisco under the new Community Assistance, Recovery & Empowerment Act (CARE Act) legislation. The CARE Act created the CARE Court with the intention of increasing the provision of critically needed housing and mental health services to individuals who have severe mental health disabilities and who are not otherwise accessing services.
San Francisco is one of 8 counties in the first state cohort required to implement the CARE Act beginning on October 1, 2023. Community opposition to the CARE Act remains today given concerns that it might infringe on the rights of persons with mental health disabilities. However, after careful consideration, the Homeless Advocacy Project staff believes that representation provides an opportunity to connect very marginalized clients with potentially life-saving services. “HAP staff will ensure that respondents are treated with dignity and respect,” said Teresa Friend, HAP Director, “We will be a strong advocate to help our clients negotiate the CARE Court process and receive services they may have had difficulty accessing in the past.”
The Homeless Advocacy Project has extensive experience providing legal services to clients who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness and who have severe mental health disabilities.
In addition to the Homeless Advocacy Project, funding for CARE Court representation was awarded in San Francisco to Legal Assistance for the Elderly (LAE.) CARE Court respondents in San Francisco not represented by HAP or LAE will be represented by the San Francisco Public Defenders' office, which will also receive funding. The CARE Act also provides a separate source of funding for county behavioral health services and some funding to support the expansion of supportive housing.
Among the other seven counties in the first state cohort, no other Qualified Legal Services Provider applied for funding, and all CARE Court respondents in those counties will be represented by their county Public Defender offices. “The Justice & Diversity Center is proud to continue its tradition of supporting the most vulnerable in San Francisco – even if no other similar legal service organization is willing or able to do so in other counties,” said Vidhya Prabhakaran, President of the Board of the Bar Association of San Francisco. “We are proud of the partnership between the JDC and LAE to ensure respondents in San Francisco get the representation they need and deserve before the new CARE Court.”